Category Archives: course info

Game Review and Game Analysis Rubrics

I have attached the rubrics I am using to evaluate your game reviews and game analyses. As you know, your grades are already determined by your grading contract, so there won’t be a grade attached to these evaluations. However I thought it would be appropriate for you to receive some evaluation.

If you submitted a review and/or an analysis, you will receive some feedback from me in the next day or so.


Game Research Assignment

Due Date: 7/3


  • 2000-word minimum/ 3000-word minimum (optional)
  • 5 cited sources, at least 2 must be scholarly (from an academic journal or book)

n.b. you have the option of producing something other than the traditional research essay (e.g. a video, a slidecast, or other multimedia project). Please send me an email describing what you’d like to do.

The purpose of this assignment is to investigate an matter of concern surrounding video games. I hope that our readings have already provided you with a wide range of possibilities: psychological, sociological, economic, aesthetic, political, and so on.

Here is a brief list of gaming journals from the University of Michigan that might get you started. Of course you should also consult our library databases. For example, a quick search at the library revealed over 1000 scholarly, full-text articles on World of Warcraft. Your challenge will be narrowing your search effectively as there is plenty of interdisciplinary research out there. Not surprisingly there is a lot of research out there on topics like video game violence and addiction. Most of the research focuses on the potential negative effects. However, there is also research on the business of gaming, the potential value of gaming in education, and the cultural study of gaming (for example, Game Studies).

I suggest the following approach.

  1. Do some brainstorming about the different questions we have discussed. Try to identify the ones that interest you the most.
  2. Review the works cited in the books we have read. Maybe there are some articles in there you’d like to explore further.
  3. Take a look at some of the resources that are out there, like those gaming journals. What kind of research do they do? What connects with your interests?
  4. Conduct some cursory, informal research on the web and in the library databases to see what you can find in your topic area.
  5. Once you find a one or two good articles, you might also check out their works cited pages.
  6. Overall I expect that you will read around a dozen articles. You won’t end up citing them all as some will turn out not to fit with your topic.
  7. Steps 1-6 will be the topic of your Games Research Blogging. You will post ten times on your research process (in addition to your regular participation, as stated in the syllabus).

From there I am guessing you have a good idea of how to proceed.

Videogame Analysis

Due Date: 6/27

Requirements: 1000-word minimum

Note: This is an optional assignment that you may complete in partial fulfillment of the A or B contract.

Where the review is a common, journalistic genre, the game analysis is an academic style essay that is analogous to the close reading of a literary text. As with close readings, the game analysis does not require you to do extensive research (i.e., it’s not a research paper). However as you are doing your research you will probably come across some good examples of game analysis. So think about the kinds of questions you might ask in conducting literary interpretation:

  • What is the deeper meaning conveyed by the text/game?
  • What feelings or thoughts is it trying to evoke?
  • What devices or mechanisms are used?

You could think about this assignment as writing another chapter in Bogost’s book (i.e. something else we can “do” with vidoegames_. Our current book, Alex Galloway’s Gaming will provide some additional examples of game analysis.

Write this as a blog post and put it in the “game analysis” category.

Writing a Videogame Review

Due Date: 6/27

Note: This is an optional assignment that you can complete in partial fulfillment of the A or B contracts.

If you are not familiar with the style and format of game reviews, I suggest that you take a look at the following sites.

Here are a few salient features of video game reviews:

  • review a current game (released this year)
  • indicate the platform on which the game is played (e.g. xBox, PS, iPhone, PC, etc.)
  • describe the game without spoilers
  • consider a range of qualities (graphics and sound, storyline, characters, playability, replay value, etc.)
  • summarize their findings

If you are going to do a review, you will need to have access to, and play, some recent game. That doesn’t require you to lay down $60 for new console game. You can choose a cheap or free phone game instead.

As stated in the syllabus, your review should be a minimum of 1000 words. You should post it to this website in the “game reviews” category.

Research Project Begins

As we enter the last half of our summer session, it is time to begin thinking about your research project. As we have seen through our readings and our conversations, there are many potential topics to discuss in relation to videogames and a lot of research that has been done.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of things you might consider.

  • Social-cultural dimensions: we’ve talked a fair amount about specific issues like addiction and violence. Those are the obvious topics that have received a lot of attention. But there are many other possible avenues to explore: representations of gender and race, gaming and education, the economics of gaming, cross-cultural studies of gaming (e.g. gaming in China), gamification, etc.
  • Psychological-medical dimensions: addiction and violence can also be studied from this perspective. Issues of attention. Use of gaming in rehabilitation, physical therapy, and so on.
  • Engineering, technical, and business dimensions: examining the development of gaming technologies: mobile gaming, AI, graphics, next-gen consoles, etc.
  • Videogame aesthetics: the study of the narratives, images, and interactivity of videogames. What kinds of stories do they tell? How do they tell them? Investigating the experience of the media for the player. You could think of this as doing literary analysis but applying it to a videogame rather than a novel or poem.

An Example

I decided that I was interested in Grand Theft Auto.

  1. I went to our library database and typed in “Grand Theft Auto” and game.
  2. I found out there were a couple books in the library and several thousand references in the database.
  3. I limited those results to full text scholarly articles. The format “journal articles” and the topic “computers and video games” and I narrowed it down to 145 results.
  4. I started looking through those and found one that looked interesting to me on the topic of music in Grand Theft Auto titled “Jacking the Dial: Radio, Race, and Place in ‘Grand Theft Auto'”
  5. I did a Google search for this article and the author and discovered that the article has been cited 23 times since its publication in 2007.
  6. I can also look at the works cited page of “Jacking the Dial” and find a range of other sources as well.
  7.  Now i have to see where my interests take me. Do I want to focus in on music and GTA? Do I want to shift toward race and GTA or some other topic on which this article addresses? Or do I want to think about music across several games? E.g. maybe I want to think about how this argument applies to the role of music in Watch Dogs or sports games like the FIFA or NBA products.
  8. So my next step is to read “Jacking the Dial” and write a Research blog post about it. That post is like an entry in an annotated bibliography. I would write a brief summary of the article and then write about my own interests in the article.